Hillary confides in us about what life is like living month to month and the stress and lack of sleep she lives with when she is stressed.
This is an excellent interview to listen to if you are stressed about money or feel like you are struggling all alone with money troubles.
Hillary provides advice from the heart based on what she has learned from being squeezed by money and living through her battle with cancer. She also provides advice for other women who might be worried about being open with your spouse about the reality of the money situation.
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Interviewer: All right, so I’ve been traveling around the country talking to people about money issues, credit and debt, all that sort of thing and, you know, without revealing too much or whatever you want to reveal. As you know, I lived through difficult financial problems in my life, went bankrupt and all that, and have you had an opportunity to live through some stressful financial times yourself?
Interviewee: Well, yes. We were in debt before and we got ourselves out of debt and we’re not in debt now. We just don’t make enough money really. We know it’s not that we owe people anything. It’s just that we’re going paycheck to paycheck trying to pay our bills and our bills are not outlandish. But it’s hard to figure out how to make the money we need to make and live the way we want to live with our family, and I don’t mean material-wise, but spending time with our family and just doing what we want to do and paying for it. (Laughter)
Interviewer: What kind of stress does that create when you look at the end of the month and it’s – you know, everything’s coming together?
Interviewee: Well, it makes me not sleep, makes my husband cranky. You know, it seems like with Steve’s job he makes a big chunk of money and then, you know, you get that check in the morning and by the afternoon it’s all gone ’cause it’s all paid out, so you feel like, “All right, we’re gonna be fine and this time we’re gonna be able to put this away and we’re gonna be able to do this and that.” And then when it comes down to it, that doesn’t happen and it’s – it makes me in one way hyper-conscious of what we spend.
Like we went out to dinner last Sunday night. We went to the funeral home to see someone and then stopped to get dinner and the bill came. I was like, “Forty-eight dollars. Oh, my God. I shouldn’t have spend that money. We should have gone home.” But then other times, you know, I go to Target and I buy the things we need and the things are gone. I’m like, “Oh, it was only $60.00? That’s it?” So I don’t know. It makes me conscious of it at odd times.
Interviewer: When people run into trouble, oftentimes they think that the first thing they need to do is cut out anything in their life that might be fun.
Interviewer: Is there a balance there? I mean do you have to leave room for fun even though you might be –?
Interviewee: Well, absolutely. You have to figure out how to do it in a way that doesn’t cost as much or – I don’t know – sometimes I feel like you do have to go and blow it and do something that you really shouldn’t do just ’cause it’ll make you feel better. (Laughter) But I don’t recommend it, but yeah, you do have to find the different ways to do things. One of the things that we really, really like and the things that I like to do is go to the gym, and I’ve started thinking about my gym membership. I’m gonna have to cut that out.
But then I had a brainstorm today. I was like, “You know, I could join the community center and use their gym and weight room. Instead of paying $90.00 a month to the gym, it’s gonna be $200.00 or $300.00 a year to do it for both of us.” So I think you can figure out the things you want to do but do it a different way.
Interviewer: Some people have a negative stereotype or negative feelings about others that are living through financial problems. They think they’re losers or rejects or people that go bankrupt are careless or whatever.
Interviewer: What do you have to say to people who are feeling like that? They’re suffering in silence. They feel alone. They’re having financial troubles and they feel like they’re the only one.
Interviewee: Well, I think there are a lot more people in financial trouble than everybody realizes. People live beyond their means no matter what their means are. People that make a million dollars live on a million and a half. People that make, you know, $100,000.00 live on $150,000.00. I think everybody is living beyond their means and you have to realize that no matter what you see on the outside, that isn’t what’s happening.
You are not in that family. You are not in that marriage. You’re not in that house to know exactly what’s happening with someone else and they could actually be in a lot more debt than you are. You just don’t see it and they keep spending it. Yours is more apparent and that’s –
Interviewer: There was a period where you lived through cancer.
Interviewer: When you’re faced with something like that, do your financial worries go out the window? Are you just focused on cancer? That –
Interviewee: No, no. You know, for me thinking about the cancer when I first got it, it – that consumed me for the first month that I had it and all I could think was, “I have cancer. I have cancer. I have cancer.” But then after that it just became part of everyday life and that was something that was going on in addition to the rest of our life. We had children that needed us, that needed to do things, and the work didn’t stop because I had cancer. It still goes on.
You still have to pay your bills. No one comes in and gives you $50,000.00 to take care of everything. You still have to figure out how to do it. We were lucky. Our insurance was really good and we didn’t end up paying very much out of pocket for my care and my treatment. I know that it can be devastating to other people and so their financial worries become even worse than they were before.
Interviewer: What about people who – like you said sometimes you don’t sleep.
Interviewer: People are really stressed. They lose weight. They can’t sleep. It affects all parts of their life. Any suggestions about how to better deal with that or you just accept it or what?
Interviewee: Well, I think if you’re married you definitely have to be open with your spouse about it because that’s helpful. You feel like – I know with my husband when we talk about money or something happens, I don’t like the way he reacts because he just becomes completely fatalistic and we’re gonna be living in a box. And so I’ve tended to not tell him and that’s been the wrong decision.
When I have told him, it makes me feel better and he’s really stepped up and made me feel better. He’s figured out, “Okay, what do we need to do and how are we gonna fix this?” ’Cause he doesn’t want to see me unhappy, so if he figures it out himself, it’s not so good, but if I tell him, it’s usually better. So you have to be open with your spouse.
If you aren’t married or you don’t have a significant other, I think you need to find someone to talk to about it, just even to say – if they can’t do anything, that’s fine, but even to say, “Oh, my God. This is horrible. Why am I doing this? And this is how I feel.” And someone else that can just kinda check in with you and see how you are and say, you know, “I’m thinking about you and I know this is hard.” And someone else might have other options and suggestions for you, too.
Interviewer: Lately for some reason I’ve been getting questions from women who – primarily women who say, “If I tell my spouse what my – what our situation really is, he’ll leave me or he’ll divorce me, so I can’t tell him.”
Interviewee: Well, if he’ll leave you or divorce you over that, then I don’t think your marriage was very good in the first place, but that – unless you have done something just heinous, that’s not a very good spouse. That’s not what they’re supposed to be there for and even if you have done something horrible, they’re supposed to help you through it, help you figure out how to do it. You made a commitment to each other. You should have enough trust in your spouse to be able to honor that.
Interviewer: All right. Well, thank you very much.
Interviewee: You’re welcome very much.